I know I can do it.
Here is the specific slide that inspired this item:
McGonigal defines stress as “what arises in your body, in your brain and in your community when something you care about is at stake.” She acknowledges that stress can make some people feel paralyzed and might lead them to underperform. She calls that reaction a “threat response” to stress, but says if educators can help students to have a “challenge response” to stress, which includes the realization that they have the resources to handle the situation, the stress can actually energize students to do better.
This more positive approach doesn’t negate the very real effects on the brain from constant high levels of stress. McGonigal is clear that the first priority in any situation is to relieve suffering. She says it’s useful to help students learn tactics to calm down in the moment, like mindfulness or other cortisol-reduction exercises, but those strategies aren’t enough on their own. Life is stressful in big and small ways; rather than trying to erase stress from life, it may be beneficial to approach inevitable stress more positively.
“There is almost no relationship between the amount of stress you are under and your stress mindset,” said McGonigal. Learning tactics to change one’s outlook on stress can be beneficial for anyone. “How you think about stress seems to influence how you cope with stress,” she said.